The Vajrakilaya teaching cycle is the longest in Sakya history and a major practice of the Khon lineage since the time of Padmasambhava. During 775 C.E., Guru Padmasambhava came to Tibet and Khon Nagendra Raksita received the Vajrakilaya empowerments and teachings directly from him. Khon Nagendra Raksita was also one of the first seven Tibetans to be ordained as Bhikshu (monk). Since then, Vajrakilaya has been the main deity of Khon lineage.
Several generations later, Khon Konchog Gyalpo (1034-1102) started the Sakya Order of Tibetan buddhism and Sakya is one of what is known as the ‘new tradition’ (sarma) and its main tantric deity became Hevajra. Most ancient teachings were concealed during that time, but due to certain indications and signs the Vajrakilaya teaching could not be concealed. Sakya Tradition continues the ancient practice of Vajrakilaya.
Sakya monasteries and Sakya flag are painted in three colours: blue in the centre with the right side white and the left side red. It is believed that these three colours were the original colours of the Palchen Podrang palace (Vajrakilaya temple) and symbolize the three faces of Vajrakilaya.
The Sakya tradition has innumerable rituals, and ceremonies. Among them, Vajrakilaya is a major practice and the most elaborate and longest. It begins with a very elaborate dance to bless the earth and related earth rituals. After that a sand mandala is created, and the vajra master and monks incorporate the sand mandala into the ritual practice everyday, and receive self-empowerment from it. The seventy-five kilaya, (ritual pegs or stakes) that are part of the Vajrakilaya ritual mandala must be made according to exact specifications. The sand mandala is dismantled at the final day of ritual.
During the ritual, the deity Vajrakilaya appears in wrathful form as the manifestation of all the Buddhas’ activity to subdue obstacles. It is believed that by participating in the ritual, all obstacles for the entire year will be cleared away.